Termites In Potted Plants – How To Identify and Get Rid Of!

Termites, mostly known to live in wood, have evolved over time, but is it possible to find termites in potted plants? They too now prefer the luxury of cozy, well-watered, and widely spaced environments. When you consider some aspects of termite behavior, they seem to be able to thrive in different habitats ranging from wood to clothes. But there’s also the question of whether they can exist in potted plants as well.

termites in potted plants

Termites In Potted Plants:

Potted plants are coined from two words – “pot” and “plant”. While soil is a must for the plants to grow, it can also be a breeding ground for some kinds of termites. Subterranean termites are the kinds that are most likely to live in potted plants if they choose to. All they need do is decide whether or not they should. That’s how determined that can be.

Do Termites Eat Plants?

Yes, termites will eat plants. Termites eat cellulose which is a plant-based material found in plants, wood, soil material, cardboard, clothing, and a bunch of other materials. Termites are some of the only insects that can actually digest cellulose which means they will eat and digest anything that contains this material.

These termite species are “shy” in nature, and enjoy the coolness of the earth (soil) by hiding underneath as though they were spies. They are usually harmless to the plants if non-woody, and do not eat them. However, should your potted plants begin to die without any obvious reason, then you can begin to suspect termites. That is because they sometimes attack the root of plants while burrowing, which can lead to the death of the entire plant. Find out more about why termites eat wood.

Signs That Termites Live In Your Potted Plant or Potting Soil

You can use these signs to figure out whether you’ve had your potted plant infested by termites.

  1. The plants begin to wilt away
  2. Small holes appear on the surface of the soil
  3. Mud tubes around the pot. These are tunnels through which termites reach the pot and carry food out.
  4. Rotting of leaves; as termite infestation takes place, some parts of the plant are left malnourished

How to Keep Potted Plants Safe from Termite Attacks

If you’ve purchased a potted plant or have a house plant, it is best to keep them off the ground because termites have a thing for moist soil. These pests are very sensitive, and one would say they can detect the presence of potted plants from their secret hideout (underneath the ground). Termites will continue to bore holes until they get into your pots and that can leave your pot damaged or destroyed. 

You also want to avoid termite infestation on your potted plants by fixing leaks, filling up wall cracks, getting rid of old books, newspapers, and other items known to attract termites. You can also apply neem oil to the plants from time to time, as it keeps them healthy while driving pests away.

In extreme cases, another option would be to throw out the content of the pot entirely and start a new house plant. While you can still preserve your plant, do not immediately move to replace the soil without proper inspection. Proceed to treat the pot with an insecticide after properly inspecting, then wash with clean water and detergent.

By understanding the signs of termite activity, it will help to keep you aware of infestations and more protected.

Final Thoughts On Termites And Potted Plants

Termites are first attracted to potted plants by the moisture they contain. They burrow themselves in, thereby creating holes in the pot before initiating an attack on root parts. Several methods of managing them exist and you can use them to protect your potted plant. Termites in potted plants aren’t safe for your home as well as your plants! So you need to act quickly! Check out other termite guides!

Resources:

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-017-3223-9_18

About The Author:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. His main goal is to provide accurate and helpful DIY tips to keep your home pest-free and how to identify different types of household pests!